Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Darwin on his own controversy

In the conclusion of The Origin of Species (at least in the printing which I read), Darwin made some interesting comments, some of which I've written here. They are still relevant to this day.

1. On the way that his detractors were ignoring a part of his text in order to mislead:

"Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure."

This is of course still relevant today in the way which creationists parse his text to make it look like he wrote the opposite of what he actually wrote.

2. On people's objections that his theory doesn't explain how life originated:

"It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life."

This is still relevant because people continue to use ignorance of the world to make claims for a god. Besides, the theory of evolution does not even have the origin of life within its scope.

3. On suggesting that his theory does nothing to take away from the possibility that a god created a few early forms, which evolved, by the laws of creation, into the diversity of life seen in modern times:

"I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone."

Obviously a lot of people today have had their religious feelings shocked. Mostly the lunatic fundamentalists (ie. ALL fundamentalists).

4. On the closed-mindedness of other veteran scientists of the time who may be too old and too biased to learn new tricks, as well as those who ignore the things it does explain, while objecting to the theory on the grounds of what it doesn't (yet) explain:

"It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the 'plan of creation', 'unity of design', &c., and to think that we give an explanation when we only re-state a fact. Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject the theory."

There are still many people who nitpick about elements of nature which they feel the theory doesn't adequately explain, ignoring the fact that it's the only theory that explains the rest of it.

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